Eagles finish season with a bang

Thursday, May 31, 2007
And he's safe Purdy's Trent Goetz is safe after sliding into second base during a recent Purdy Eagles' baseball game. The Eagles won a district championship and then advanced to the state quarterfinals before losing to Houston and ending an impressive season. Photo by Linda Patton (b)

The Purdy Eagles qualified for the state baseball tournament this past week after winning their district tournament. The local team beat Forsyth in the sectional but lost to Houston in the quarter-final.

Many had Purdy slated as the underdog against powerhouse Forsyth, but Eagle Coach Josh Hughes disagreed. "I don't think we were (the underdog), (maybe) on paper, but my main concern was just not being nervous," Coach Hughes said.

The Eagles showed just how calm they could be by winning the 6-4 nail-biter.

The sectional game at Forsyth began with a 20- to 25-mile-per-hour wind blowing out to center/right field. Purdy got only one hit in the entire first three innings, and for awhile, it appeared the Eagle offense had not come to play.

Forsyth opened the scoring with a run off of two singles and a hit by pitch in the second. The Panthers garnered another run in the third with a lead-off home run. The next batter flied-out, but a walk and an error put two men on base with only one out. With the threat looming, Eagle pitcher Corey Moller got a ground-out and another fly-out to end the inning with no more damage. Holding Forsyth off served as a rallying cry for the Eagles and they pounded the home team in the fourth. Spencer Terry led off with a single to start the inning. He would be followed by three more hits, two sacrifice flies and a walk that helped the Eagles score four. Chris Bennett had the big hit of the inning with an RBI double and he also scored the fourth run. Forsyth answered with another run in the bottom of the inning, but Purdy gained it back, knocking one home in the fifth. The sixth inning went scoreless, leaving Purdy with a 5-3 lead.
In the seventh, Derek Dailey led off with his third hit by pitch of the game, and he scored on a ball from Blake Williams that ended up as a fielder's choice. The run would be the only one Purdy could score, but it turned out to be an important one. Forsyth's lead-off man had hit the game's only homerun; however, Moller got him to fly-out. The Panthers' next batter got a double on an error and was followed by a walk and a single that scored him. Purdy's lead fell to 6-4. Forsyth's next batter walked, loading the bases with only one out.
The Eagles then made a pitching change, bringing in sophomore Mason Roller. Roller took his warm-ups and then settled in for what was a very tough spot. The young star needed only three pitches to strike his first batter out. Then with the bases still loaded, Roller pitched for the final out. He got up quickly, blowing two fastballs right by the Panther hitter for an 0-2 count but then tried two more that both missed to make the count even (2-2).

His fifth pitch was fouled off, another fastball, but set the hitter up for just what Roller wanted - a lazy curveball that seemed to last forever, totally catching the batter off guard and striking him out looking. Roller earned the save, and the Eagles qualified to the state quaterfinals.

Moller picked up the win for the Eagles. He threw 6.1 innings, striking out three while giving up five walks, eight hits and three earned runs. The senior threw 109 pitches, 64 for strikes. Roller relieved in the game and pitched .2 innings, striking out the last two batters on nine pitches, seven of which were strikes.

For the Eagle offense, Derek Dailey led the way. He went one-for-one, reaching base three other times on hit-by-pitches. He scored three runs and had an RBI. Bennett also did well. He went two-for-three with a double, a sacrifice fly, a run and an RBI. Other hitters for Purdy included: Williams 2, Trent Goetz, Terry, Roller and Ryan Veith.

"One thing I told them (Purdy), you have got to tie or win every inning, and from the fourth inning on, that is what we did," said Coach Hughes. The Eagles certainly followed their coach's advice and advanced on to play Houston (16-6) on Friday night at the Purdy Eagle Stadium.

An empty seat was not to be had with a full crowd made up of members from both communities filling the bleachers and all adjacent areas.

Houston led off to start the game and their first batter hit a single on a full-count pitch. Their next batter flied out but two hits, two walks and a sacrifice fly later, the Tigers led 3-0. Houston's ace pitcher, Gus Durst, then struck out all three Purdy batters he faced to end the first inning.

Both teams blanked in the second, but Houston scored two more in the third. Purdy perhaps had its best chance to score in the third but could not come up with the clutch hit. With one out and the bases loaded, the Eagles hit into a fielder's choice (out at home) and then struck out. The visiting Tigers would not allow the Eagles to have another chance. Houston scored five more runs in the next two innings, and Durst held the home team in check, ending the game in just five innings with the final score 10-0.

Purdy struggled with their confidence at times, committing three errors to Houston's one. They stranded four men on base and hit for an average of .167. The Tigers, who came in as one of the best Class 2 hitting ball clubs, hit .444 in the game. They amassed six doubles and had three stolen bases.

Roller started on the mound for Purdy and earned the loss. He threw 3.1 innings, giving up eight hits and two walks. Eight runs scored with Roller in the game, but only five were earned. The sophomore tallied two strikeouts. He threw 76 pitches, and of those, 46 were strikes.

Moller relieved and went 1.2 innings, giving up two walks and four hits as well as two earned runs. Moller struck out one and threw 42 pitches with 23 of them strikes.

Durst for Houston was nothing short of amazing on the opposing side. He threw all five innings, striking out seven batters while only giving up three hits and one walk. He threw 63 pitches, 41 strikes.

Trenton Dailey led Purdy in the field and on the base paths. He went zero-for-one, but he was walked, had a stolen base and a diving catch in the outfield. Moller was Purdy's other top player, hitting two singles in both of his at bats. Goetz was the only other Eagle with a hit.

Houston's third-baseman, Kirk Pierce, led their team. He went three-for-three with two doubles, one sacrifice hit, one run, four RBI and a good defensive play in the field.

"How many teams can say they won 17 games in a year." said Coach Hughes after being asked about this season. "I told them we've just got to keep moving on."

Coach Hughes and the Eagles lose only two seniors and look forward to another good season next year.

When asked about his seniors, Coach Hughes said, "Corey Moller pitching wise, has been a work horse for us, and Terry got hot in the middle of the season and became one of our best hitters." said Hughes.

"I'd rather have ended it in a different way, but we had a great run." said Moller, who plans to head to Crowder College next year and play baseball there.

Purdy finishes with a record of 17-9 (4-0). They were conference and district champions and qualified to the state quarterfinals for the first time in the program's history.

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